Airbus to raise floor on A380 to create 11-abreast


Airbus will literally raise the floor on the Airbus A380 to accommodate 18-inch wide economy class seats in 11-abreast configuration, Mark Lapidus, CEO of leasing company Amedeo revealed today at the ISTAT conference in San Diego.

“We pushed Airbus very hard to get 11-abreast introduced, [which adds] 35 to 40 extra seats, and it puts in perspective the unit cost issue,” said Lapidus.

Crucially, he said, Airbus will go 11-abreast “and still deliver an 18-inch seat”. This will be accomplished by “raising the floor by two inches in the wider part of the aircraft”.

The economics of the aircraft will be “significantly improved” he said, adding that “on a per square foot basis, the A380-800 will have lower unit [costs] than the A350-1000 and the 777X”.

Airbus is eager to tempt its largest A380 customer, Emirates, to take delivery of the double-decker aircraft in 11-abreast configuration. The manufacturer will reveal a new 11-abreast A380 cabin mock-up at the forthcoming Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Runway Girl Network can reveal.

Last fall, after announcing a fresh order for 50 A380s, Emirates president Tim Clark was asked about the carrier’s interest level in offering an 11-abreast layout, which would increase the number of economy seats on the double decker aircraft by about 40. Clark responded that he was “sure Airbus is going to persuade us to do it”, but that the airline wanted to make sure the seats remain at least 18 inches wide. Emirates currently offers 19-inch wide seats in 10-abreast formation on its A380s.

An Airbus executive told Runway Girl Network at ISTAT that the airframer has also achieved an 18-inch wide seat in 11-abreast configuration through creative shaping of the armrests. Airbus has not removed the window seat armrest, he said.

Has Airbus pursued a 4-3-4 layout or 3-5-3? This wasn’t mentioned on the panel, and neither Airbus nor Lapidus could confirm when questioned though 4-3-4 would not comply with evacuation standards. Lapidus says he believes it’s 3-5-3, and Flightglobal has since released a picture of an 11-abreast A380 cabin in 3-5-3 that it says is courtesy of Airbus.

During ISTAT, Air Lease Corp chief Steven Udvar-Hazy figuratively suggested that an 11-abreast configuration would be super-snug for passengers when he jumped on the moderator to prove his point (unfortunately we don’t have photographic evidence of this, but we hope someone took a picture!)

The 3-5-3 configuration has been a point of concern for Emirates. Indeed, Tim Clark “said the real issue [with an 11-abreast A380] is the middle seat of 5 in the 3-5-3 configuration. Emirates is focused on comfort and I don’t think we’d ever compromise on that,” Emirates VP, product, publishing, digital and events Patrick Brannelly previously told us.


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  2. Ian

    >> Has Airbus pursued a 4-3-4 layout or 3-5-3?

    Umm… D’oh!

    Anyone remotely familar with aircraft design will be able to tell the author that a 4-3-4 layout is *not* possible, since it does not comply with evacuation standards. There cannot be more than two seats between any seat and an aisle.

    • Mary Kirby

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your comment. We do in fact know the regs, but I asked Airbus this specific question months ago and one of its top designers could not even confirm if it had been ruled out.

      Yes, it’s *very* likely the config will be 3-5-3, but note Emirates’ Patrick Brannelly’s final comment about this particular layout being EK’s true concern.

      • Britney

        I agree with Ian. The 4-3-4 configuration is not possible, period. If you say you know the ‘regs’, Ms. Kirby, why would you even bother posting that as a possibility? It merely serves as a discredit to your supposed knowledge.

        • Mary Kirby

          Hi Britney,

          Thank you for your comment. I totally understand your concern, and appreciate what you’re saying. However, I interviewed Mark Lapidus after his announcement at ISTAT and he said only that he “thinks” it’s 3-5-3 (follow-up story coming shortly). This came after a top Airbus designer could not confirm 3-5-3. With that said, I point you to a picture released to Flightglobal (apparently from Airbus) after my story went viral, and it shows a 3-5-3 configuration.

          I’ll update this RGN post to reflect the release of this picture, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate that I’m eager to see the cabin mock-up at AIX with my own eyes because A) it would be quite an accomplishment to be able to retain 18 inches of width in 3-5-3 on the A380 and B) EK said it didn’t like 3-5-3 when last we spoke.



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